Monday, November 8, 2010

A Change Will Do You Good

In January 2010 I resolved to stop thinking so much about food; specifically, to stop READING so much about food. I was spending quality time with cookbooks, cooking magazines, Eat Pray Love . . . you get the picture. Since reading about food tweaked my appetite, I was often combining the two “vices”. And then switching on The Food Network.

When all my pants became too tight, I decided to switch to books and magazines and TV about fitness and fashion. I started taking home issues of Shape and Women’s Fitness and Oxygen and Women’s Health from the library. I exploited a loophole by deciding it was all right to read the recipes in those magazines. I discovered there was a fitness channel – who knew?

Best of all, I found a world of great fashion guides on the fourth floor of the library. 646.34 became my favorite Dewey number! We’ve come a long way since Dress for Success and Color Me Beautiful helped women discover how to tie a floppy foulard tie and figure out whether they were a Summer or a Spring. (At that time I was told I was an Autumn and that my best colors were leaf mold and pond scum.)

Nina Garcia of Marie Claire magazine and Project Runway has written several great books on breaking out of a fashion rut and looking your best. Try The One Hundred: A Guide to the Pieces Every Stylish Woman Must Own . Kim Johnson Gross, the founder of Chic Simple, has several great books out as well, her newest being What to Wear for the Rest of Your Life: Ageless Secrets of Style.

But fashion isn’t all about shopping. One of my top ten books for 2010 is The Thoughtful Dresser by Linda Grant. In the most accessible and erudite way, she looks at why every human culture for thousands of years has decorated the body in one way or another, what fashion and dress mean to her personally, and what fashion meant to a woman named Catherine Hill, who survived Auschwitz to bring couture first to Canada and then to Manhattan. It’s the Ph. D. version of Love, Loss and What I Wore , a lovely, brief biography in clothes by Ilene Beckerman.

I can't explain it, but reading about my interests seems to amplify the enjoyment of that preoccupation. There’s a kind of amplification or boost to the experience when you share your enthusiasm with someone else, even if it’s a writer you’ll never meet. And if you lose a few pounds because of that enthusiasm, that's just the silver lining.

You can wander up to the 4th floor and visit 646.34, or click here for a selection of new fashion, color and clothing books available at the library. Or if that doesn’t move you, tell me what hobby YOU like to read about in the comments!


Linda K. said...

I've never been a slave to fashion and pretty much wear what's comfortable, but the library changed my mind on certain fashion statements - especially shoes. I always wore basic black, navy or brown flat shoes. Then I noticed people around me wearing great stylish shoes in all colors. I soon discovered a pair of bright orange mocs, a pair of turquoise shoes, and several other shoes I never would have considered before. (Roberta's influence?) Soon I noticed calendars, books, catalogs and greeting cards emphasizing shoes. All of a sudden it became all about the shoes! I love finding books about things like fashion, shoes, crafts, cats, food, gardening - all favorite things.

As far as being an "autumn" and dressing in muddy colors... there's a great episode of the BBC series "Murder in Suburbia" where the female detective suddenly stops wearing her bright outfits and switches to olive and brown because she read a book about her colors and decided she was not a "spring" but an "autumn." All her co-workers thought she was sick or depressed. Luckily she turned it around and picked out what she liked. Sometimes change does not do you good!

Fiona Dinwiddie said...

Another benefit to reading these fashion books is that you lose weight walking up to the 4th floor!

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